What can I expect on my first visit to an osteopath?

All of our clinics have their own car parks, some Hospitals operate a pay and display system while GP surgeries do not. Allow plenty of time to find parking and if possible arrive at least 15 minutes early to give yourself plenty of time. Inform the reception staff you have arrived and take a seat and your practitioner will call your name when ready.

At the first consultation, the osteopath will take a detailed case history;

  • A case history of your symptoms will be noted which will include questions on how long you have been in pain, how your pain began and things that make it worse or better. You may feel some questions are not relevant to your case, if so feel free to ask the Osteopath why they are asking them. They may also ask for information about your lifestyle (job, levels of activity and diet). Once your case history has been noted, the Osteopath will begin the examination: You will usually be asked to remove some clothing near the area of the body to be examined. You are welcome to bring a family friend or relative as support to any appointment.
  • The osteopath may observe you standing while assessing a variety of factors which can include spinal curves or posture.
  • The Osteopath may touch or palpate areas of the body with your consent in order to determine conditions and identify the body’s points of weakness or excessive strain.
  • The Osteopath may ask you to perform a range of movements; you must stop and tell them if they are painful or if you are worried it may cause pain.
  • They may perform some diagnostic hands on tests to help in diagnosing your condition.
  • The history and examination help them make a diagnosis.

The osteopath will discuss with you the diagnosis and most appropriate treatment plan, estimating the likely number of sessions needed to treat your condition effectively.  If the Osteopath thinks it likely your condition will not respond to Osteopathic intervention or feels further investigation or opinions are required they will discuss this with you and outline how this will best be achieved.

At South Devon Osteopaths we believe in shared decision making. We endeavour to give you a thorough understanding of your condition, with the use of models and pictures in language you can understand. A thorough understanding of your diagnosis allows you to make an informed decision on your care and what options are available.


An Osteopath will use hands on techniques to treat your condition in a variety of ways. These can include using a mixture of gentle and more forceful techniques:

  • Massage – to release and relax muscles
  • Stretching stiff joints and muscles.
  • Articulation – where your joints are moved through their natural range of motion
  • Mobilisation – where a joint is taken to its restricted end range and assisted to increase its active range.
  • High-velocity thrusts – high velocity low amplitude trust to joints to increase mobility/range of motion.

Your Osteopath will discuss with you the techniques they intend on using and any possible adverse reactions to these techniques.

After your case history, examination and treatment your osteopath may offer advice on managing your pain, changes to your day to day activities and may advocate a  home exercise program (this can be printed or e-mailed for you to reference at home).

At SDO we think it important as a part of your treatment that we aim to create an open patient practitioner relationship that ensures you are at the centre of any decisions made about your care. This also aims to ensure you take responsibility for your own wellness by adhering to the advice such as changes to posture at home or work while being diligent with your personal home exercise plan.

If required your osteopath will arrange a follow up appointment usually within the next 14 days, some of our appointments are outside of normal working hours.

South Devon Osteopaths have an online booking system which allows you to change appointments up to 2 days before. We can also arrange for a text reminder for your appointment if you wish. This service is free.

South Devon Osteopaths have a strict missed appointment policy which we recommend you read.